OK, so you’ve chosen your keywords. Now you’re ready to start creating the content of your awesome website, right?
Woah, not so fast! Back it up a little. SEO is an art, but it’s also a science. There’s a few things you want to map out before you pen your first article.
1. Pick one main topic for your site to maximize SEO
Search engines are clever programs, and it’s not difficult for them to determine when your site is unfocused. However, if the search engines determine that your site is focused and authoritative about a topic, then it will rank much higher than its less focused competitors. Making your site about one clear topic will also make it far easier to do keyword optimization. Your topic can be in your domain name, site title, within the names of post categories and mentioned frequently across articles. When your website lacks focus, it will be difficult or impossible to do this level of keyword optimization. Rather it is likely that no keywords will stand out, giving your site a uniformly low ranking without a very high number of inbound links.
Of course, this is not to say that your site cannot be about other things. It can. Just don’t place emphasis on those other topics.
2. Link to other pages on your website
Internal links serve three main purposes on a website:
- Internal links aid in the navigation of the website.
- Internal links define the architecture of the website.
- Internal links spread link juice throughout the website.
Suffice it to say, having strategically distributed internal links is excellent for both SEO and site usability.
A solid internal link strategy will look like the following;
- No page should be more than three clicks from the homepage.
- Use relevant anchor text for internal links. Don’t over-optimize.
- The homepage should limit its links to the most important second-level pages.
- Use breadcrumb navigation to make following these tips easier.
3. Include your SEO keywords in your permalinks
The default permalink format of most content management systems is pretty bad. Not only are the schemes ugly, they are terrible for SEO. URLs such as http://www.example.com/?p=2 or http://www.example.com/10/22/2015/ may be convenient for CMS programmers, but not for search engines. These permalinks give no indication as to what the content is about. Even http://www.example.com/seo_posts/10/22/2015 is a huge improvement.
4. Speed up your website
Your page loading speed has an effect on your rankings, especially on Google, so remove any bottlenecks to your site speed. Besides, your visitors will appreciate any speed improvements you make to your website. Patience isn’t exactly commonplace on the web. Run Google’s PageSpeed Insights on your webpage and see if you could stand to make some improvements.
5. Provide rich answers to questions on your website
Rich answers to questions may just reward you with a free highlighted place in Google’s search results. While right now, rich answers appear in only about 20 percent of the queries used to trigger them, this is likely only to increase in the future.
6. Engage your vistors
Let’s be real. User engagement matters when it comes to rankings. If users are regularly interacting with your content, search engines are going to pick up on this, and they will see your content as relevant and of high quality, adjusting your position accordingly.
There are tools one can use to tailor one’s content to what gets the visitor to respond. SumoMe Heatmaps stands out in my mind. By creating a graphical view of where users are clicking and on what they are clicking, the content can be modified for topic and visibility to improve CTR.
7. Avoid “black hat” SEO practices
Make no mistake, they can still work, but they are an extremely short-lived solution that will hurt your rankings long-term. Search engines are much more intelligent than they were in years prior and have recognized that sites with tens of thousands of spam links on unrelated sites are likely spammers and penalize them for this practice. Professional SEO specialists are happy to provide effective, long-term solutions for improving your ranking.
8. Create useful and relevant ALT tags
Sean Work has excellent advice for how you should write ALT tags.
Write your alt tags like if you had to describe them to someone who is blind…
— Sean Work (@seanvwork) May 1, 2014
Indeed, that is their one of their actual purposes, but I think many do not keep that in mind when creating them, if they create them at all–which they should.
9. Add deep links to your site
Rest assured, your homepage and Contact Us pages are your most visible. They don’t need any help. Now your content a few levels down, it could use some assistance. Create links to deeper content on the upper levels to improve their visibility. Deep links are also more natural when doing content marketing. This is important because you are writing for humans first, not web spiders.
10. If your content management system has a related posts/articles plugin, use it
This will improve user engagement which, as we noted, is important for SEO. Using such a plugin is also an easy way to automate generation of relevant internal links and improve time-on-site. If a user was interested enough to click on and read through a post or article on a topic, it is very likely that they will willing to click on a link to a post or article on a related subject, keeping them browsing.
Always remember that structure of your content and how it is presented is every bit as important as the content itself when it comes to SEO